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Native American Brother Serves His Tribe and Others

Tuesday, June 6, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Native American languages have been utilized for thousands of years. However, there’s a serious problem.

According to languageconservancy.org, "Over the last fifty years, all around the world, a silent catastrophe has been unfolding. Thousands of languages -- all ancient and not well documented -- have been disappearing."

The Language Conservancy, which helps prevent the extinction of languages, explains that "when these languages disappear, the ideas, customs, stories and songs -- embedded and expressed through them also disappear. Tens of thousands of years of a people's culture and identity are lost.”

One Phi Kap is doing his part to ensure native languages live on, especially his own.

nativeJoe Dupris (University of Washington, '13) (pictured right) is currently working toward a PhD at the University of Arizona in the fields of linguistics and anthropology.

"I came to Arizona to work on bringing my tribe’s language back to a viable method of communication” he explained.

Brother Dupris is from the Klamath-Modoc tribe, primarily based in Oregon and California. His main field of research is the language revitalization of his tribe’s language, called "Maqlaqsyals”.

Like many tribes, his was once subject to conversion by the United States government and various Christian denominations. Decades ago, the children (now grandparents) attended boarding schools funded by the federal government and operated by religious organizations. According to Dupris, they had the language literally beaten out of them in a concerted effort to assimilate native peoples.

nativeNow the people want Maqlaqsyals to be revitalized. "When I was growing up” says Dupris, "my community made it known as a priority to share the science and art of our lands with generations to come.”

He recently returned to Oregon and held a workshop for his people to practice full-immersion language. It was so successful, he received funding to hold another workshop this winter.Brother Dupris has also been making an impact on campus. He’s served on the linguistics department’s Faculty Search Committee, which has been in search of a professor in the Native American Masters of Arts program.

Brother Dupris has also been in active in the state of Arizona, a hotbed for Native American tribes and culture. He’s been involved in workshops with local educators through the Arizona Indian Education Association and Indigenous Strategies LLC, in partnership with Pima County School Superintendent.

His impact is getting noticed.

Dupris was recently honored with this year’s Outstanding Graduate Service Award in the Native American Student Affairs department at the University of Arizona.

He was also featured in the Herald and News, a newspaper back in Oregon.

He credits his brothers of Phi Kappa Theta for being supportive during his graduate studies.

Dupris served as the recruitment coach for Arizona Alpha Zeta, Phi Kappa Theta’s chapter at Arizona State University. In May 2016, Dupris attended the chapter’s installation, where he also met Phi Kappa Theta’s president, Lawrence Dorocke (Purdue University, ’68). President Dorocke had this to say about Brother Dupris:

"I enjoyed speaking with Joe and learning of his desire to perpetuate his native language and culture. His message is very inspirational and serves as a catalyst for all Phi Kaps who want to serve where their passions and interests lie.”

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